Council claim academy conversion is best way forward for Wembley secondary school

Copland Community School

Copland Community School - Credit: Archant

Copland Community has been told it must become an academy

Brent Council has claimed that the “only way” to achieve lasting change at a troubled secondary school in Wembley is to accept an academy conversion.

Copland Community School, in Cecil Avenue, has been told by the Department for Education (DfE) that it must become an academy following an Ofsted report earlier this month which placed it in “special measures”.

Yesterday, May 23, teachers and teaching unions staged a strike outside the school in opposition to the plans.

Under strict new government guidelines, outlined by Michael Gove, the education secretary, any school deemed “failing” must become an academy meaning they are taken away from local authority control and placed with a sponsor. Copland is currently the only local authority controlled secondary school left in Brent but the council has conceded a conversion is the best way forward to achieve “radical and lasting change”.

Cllr Michael Pavey, lead member for children & families at the council, said: “For far too long it has had bad teaching and unacceptable results – everyone in Brent knows its reputation.

“The school serves the most disadvantaged communities in Brent. If we avoid making difficult decisions, we would fail those children who need our support most. Local families deserve radical and lasting change at Copland.

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“This can now only be achieved through conversion to an academy.”

Copland has a troubled past and its former headmaster alongside five of his former colleagues are currently awaiting trail amid claims they accumulated £2.7m in illegal bonuses while at the school.

They deny the claims and will face trail this September.

Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council said: “Copland is a failed school and everyone in Brent knows it. To give Brent children the education they deserve, it needs a fresh start right now.”

Union members, who insisted yesterday’s strike had no impact on children sitting exams, have vowed to fight any academy plans and are instead calling on the government to release money owed to the school to undergo a much needed rebuild.

Last year it was announced Copland was set to benefit from an £18million rebuild as part of the Government’s Priority Schools Build programme, which rebuilds schools in poor condition.

The funding has yet to materialise.

The Department for Education said it believed the support of a strong sponsor was the best way to help the schools improve.